Poverty & stress put people at greater risk of dementia – Alzheimer’s experts

The stress of poverty and life in disadvantaged neighborhoods raises the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, and African Americans are one-and-a-half times more at risk of developing the cognitive disorder than whites, several new studies find.

A single major stressful event early in life can significantly damage a person’s cognitive health later on, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, according to RT.

On average, African Americans experience 60 percent more stressful events than whites over the course of a lifetime, the study found.

he researchers said that each stressful experience was equivalent to approximately four years of cognitive aging in African Americans, compared with one-and-a-half years for whites.

“The stressful events that the researchers were focusing on were a large variety ... the death of a parent, abuse, loss of a job, loss of a home ... poverty, living in a disadvantaged neighborhood, divorce,” said Dr Maria Carrillo, the chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Another study from the University of Wisconsin found that people in disadvantaged neighborhoods had disproportionately higher levels of biomarkers linked to Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

The researchers have mapped over 30 million neighborhoods in the US based on socioeconomic data and then analyzed it against available information on Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. In total, the disease caused 3.6 percent of the total deaths nationwide in 2014. An estimated 5.5 million American adults  are currently affected by the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects that number to rise to 13.8 million by 2050.